Have Britain’s cupboards been left bare? Labour MP claims Army’s depleted stocks mean UK can field just 40 battle-ready tanks after years of cuts and Ukraine donations
- Former Defence Minister Kevan Jones said the total of 40 battle-ready tanks include the 14 Challenger 2 tanks which are now being sent over to Ukraine
- Ministry of Defence disputes figures saying nearly double deployed last year
The Army is now so depleted that it has fewer than 40 battle-ready tanks, it was claimed last night.
Labour MP and former Defence Minister Kevan Jones said that included the 14 Challenger 2 tanks being sent to aid Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion.
Last night, Ministry of Defence sources disputed his figures, saying nearly double that number were deployed to the Baltic area last year.
The row follows The Mail on Sunday’s revelation last week of claims that our Armed Forces are now so stretched that Nato has asked Germany to remain in charge of its rapid-reaction force for another year.
The report was denied by the MoD, which yesterday insisted that the UK would take over the land component part of the role next January as planned.
Labour MP and former Defence Minister Kevan Jones said that included the 14 Challenger 2 tanks being sent to aid Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion
But critics pointed to the fact that Britain’s contribution would be provided by the 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team as proof the Army was running out of tanks. One said: ‘The clue’s in the name of the brigade – Light Mechanised, meaning no tanks.’
Mr Jones, who is a member of the Commons Defence Committee, said the situation only confirmed what Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had already said, that ‘the British Army has been hollowed out and underfunded to the point where we are becoming an embarrassment to our Nato allies and where we are unable to fulfil some commitments’.
Mr Jones said: ‘In fact, I now reckon we have fewer than 40 operational, battle-ready tanks and that includes the 14 we are sending to Ukraine.’
Last night, MoD officials suggested that figure seriously underestimated the number of battle-ready tanks.
A spokesman also insisted there was ‘no set requirement from Nato on how this taskforce is composed and other nations frequently provide light mechanised infantry, such as France’.
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